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Old 10-04-2013, 10:17 AM   #1
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The Invisible Library

Around 2001 a website of this name surfaced, containing fictitious books found in other books. The site ran for a number of years before finally, as websites will, dying.

I thought it was a fun idea at the time, collected a few imaginary books from novels on my own shelves, and emailed them in, but (cause and effect? I hope not) the site faded away soon after without my small contribution appearing.

We all know some of these books in the Invisible Library: the various books of Oolon Colluphid which are mentioned in The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, and "The Joy of Snackes" by Gytha Ogg in "Maskerade" (an R-rated cookbook). Not to mention "The Necrotelecomnicon" in various places in the Discworld Saga.

But did you know that Cohen the Barbarian wrote a book (most likely ghost-written, let's be honest: Cohen probably couldn't sign his own name let alone spell it):

In Just Seven Dayes I Will Make You a Barbarian Hero! (in Sourcery).

I still keep finding these imaginary books in all sorts of unlikely places. Arthur W Upfield, not noted for humour in his novels, had his Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte (undercover as a writer in "An Author Bites the Dust") suddenly having to invent a book he claimed he was writing, and produced the in an instant the title "I Walk on My Toes". A doubly invisible book, since even in Upfield's universe, it was never written.

Other Authors of invisible works, so to speak, are naturally Ariadne Oliver in various Agatha Christie novels, and Rose M Banks (wife of Bingo Little) in Wodehouse's Jeeves and Bertie stories.

I can't help thinking that modern Fantasy writing, which I rarely read, must produce a bumper crop of invisible books. I don't doubt for a minute that several members of this forum have created their own.
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Old 10-04-2013, 10:52 AM   #2
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Yea I have to start cataloging the books I created in my books... has a recursive problem there
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Old 10-04-2013, 12:13 PM   #3
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And there's the famous "Encyclopedia Galactica" in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, it even gets its own Wikipedia page.

I have been fooled sometimes, discovering that a referenced book is not invisible at all, just something I hadn't heard of before.

ETA: And what do you call it in something like "The World According to Garp" by John Irving, which provides parts of various books like "The Pension Grillparzer" ? Translucent? (At some more suitable hour than 2:15am I may be able to remember some of Irving's other invisible books.)

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Old 10-04-2013, 12:58 PM   #4
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There are also books based in puns. i.e. Basic car repair by Russ T. Heap and so forth.
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:10 AM   #5
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Yellow River by I. P. Freely.....
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:44 AM   #6
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Kenny, is it still invisible if it's appeared on The Simpsons? (Well, I know that author has, not so sure about the book.)

From "Dune" by Frank Herbert we get: "Manual of Maud'Dib" and "Mud'Dib, Family Commentaries" ... and many more ... by the Princess Irulan.

Back to John Irving for a moment ... I think I'd have to re-read the books and note down the titles as they went past. Vydorscope mentioned recursion, there's a certain amount of that going on in some of Irving's books, with writer characters writing writer characters.

I've just finished re-reading "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons, and that presents another interesting case. Internally it speaks of the "Hyperion Cantos" by Martin Silenus, but then Simmons' series also gets called the "Hyperion Cantos", and it's all influenced by the real, but incomplete, "Hyperion" poem by John Keats. It gets difficult to extract the visible from the invisible. (ETA: It does have a real invisible book - did I just say that? - "The Dying Earth" by Martin Silenus.)

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Old 10-05-2013, 07:51 AM   #7
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:04 AM   #8
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Cool topic. I recently saw a similar one on YouTube, something to do with fictional bands in movies.

What about in the Ender's Game series, didn't Ender write a treatise of some sort in one of the later stories?
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:07 AM   #9
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This is rather the opposite of the topic, but I can't tell you how pleased I was to find that The Mysteries of Udolpho was a real book. It's still on the TBR...
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:10 AM   #10
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This is rather the opposite of the topic, but I can't tell you how pleased I was to find that The Mysteries of Udolpho was a real book. It's still on the TBR...
Looks interesting. Did you get that from Northanger Abbey, or somewhere else? (I haven't read Northanger Abbey, but Wikipedia says Austen "satirises it", and I was trying to work out whether that meant Austen didn't like it, or whether she was just having fun.)
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:22 AM   #11
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[...]What about in the Ender's Game series, didn't Ender write a treatise of some sort in one of the later stories?
In "Speaker for the Dead" we find out that Ender wrote two books, "The Hive Queen" and "The Hegemon", under the name "Speaker for the Dead" and that started the tradition of having speakers for the dead.
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:10 PM   #12
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There is of course also the Necronomicon which was written by the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. It was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 short story "The Hound."
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:18 PM   #13
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In the front of every one of the Flashman novels is a Who's Who entry for Sir Harry Flashman, and it includes the titles of several books written by Flashy. Unfortunately I no longer have any of my old Flashman paperbacks, so can't quote them here.

Anthony Boucher, a crime and SF writer/editor among other things, wrote a splendid comic crime novel called "Rocket to the Morque" (1942). The plot revolves around the literary legacy of the late Fowler Foulkes, a noted author of the 1920s whose hero was a Sherlock Holmes-esque character called Dr Derringer.

Several genuine SF writers/editors appear in it, lightly disguised: Heinlein, John W Campbell and others, and a full bibliography of Fowler Foulkes' novels appears at the front of the book as an extract from another imaginary book: "Who's What in the USA".

Among the titles are "The Purple Light", "The Researches of Dr Derringer", "Beneath the Abyss", "The Crimson Prism" and numerous others.

And how about the best-known reference work in history, created by Carl Barks, who produced the Scrooge McDuck/Donald Duck/Huey Dewey and Louie adventure comics for Disney: "The Junior Woodchuck Manual", which must surely contain more material than Wikipedia, and yet fit in your pocket...
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Old 10-06-2013, 03:35 AM   #14
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In the front of every one of the Flashman novels is a Who's Who entry for Sir Harry Flashman, and it includes the titles of several books written by Flashy. Unfortunately I no longer have any of my old Flashman paperbacks, so can't quote them here.

Anthony Boucher, a crime and SF writer/editor among other things, wrote a splendid comic crime novel called "Rocket to the Morque" (1942). The plot revolves around the literary legacy of the late Fowler Foulkes, a noted author of the 1920s whose hero was a Sherlock Holmes-esque character called Dr Derringer.

Several genuine SF writers/editors appear in it, lightly disguised: Heinlein, John W Campbell and others, and a full bibliography of Fowler Foulkes' novels appears at the front of the book as an extract from another imaginary book: "Who's What in the USA".

Among the titles are "The Purple Light", "The Researches of Dr Derringer", "Beneath the Abyss", "The Crimson Prism" and numerous others.

And how about the best-known reference work in history, created by Carl Barks, who produced the Scrooge McDuck/Donald Duck/Huey Dewey and Louie adventure comics for Disney: "The Junior Woodchuck Manual", which must surely contain more material than Wikipedia, and yet fit in your pocket...
There was also an episode of Duck Tales in which Scrooge McDuck was looking for a lost play by Drakespeare which turned out to have the title of "McDuck." As I recall one line of the play was quoted. "This is the tale of old McDuck, who lied and cheated, and ran amok." Needless to say Scrooge didn't want for the lost play to be 'found' after that.
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:10 PM   #15
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All of the Dune series (both the original series by Frank Herbert, and the "prequels" by his son Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson). Each chapter opens with an epigraph. There are dozens of books and scholarly treatises cited, I would't try to list them all here.
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